Rhythm Planet: Spring Mix

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Superstar pianist Lang Lang Photo © Gregor Hohenberg and Büro Dirk Rudolph

For Rhythm Planet’s latest mix, I’ve selected 20 wonderful jazz, world, and classical tracks—mostly new but a few evergreens, too. I’ll highlight some of them below.

We start with the L.A.-based Aditya Prakash Ensemble with a track honoring the memory of Prakash’s father. The song was originally penned by the late Qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. A video of the recording session (see below), done at UCLA, is very moving.

Next we hear a rare performance by saxophonist Pharoah Sanders of his iconic song “The Creator has a Master Plan.” This comes from organist Joey DeFrancesco’s new album In the Key of the Universe. New in jazz reissues is an audiophile vinyl release of trumpeter Don Cherry’s 1975 jewel Brown Rice, a celebration of world music long before the term was coined. It features musical elements from jazz, African, Indian, and Arabic music.

On the world music front, we hear from a new album of Moroccan devotional music called Jedba, co-produced by the Moroccan composer and producer Abdesselam (Abel) Damoussi and world music artist Nour Eddine. Other new world music highlights include Vietnamese zither player Tri Nguyen, music from Turkish oud player Mehmet Polat, as well as some Thracian groove from the Rodopi Ensemble. Finally, Cuban singer Eme Alfonso (photo below by Larisa Lopez) is out with her third album, called Voy. She was recently featured on The World and NPR called her a “standout” at SXSW.

 

New classical gems include Lang Lang playing Mozart’s “Ah, vous dirai-je maman,” better known today as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” The Chinese superstar pianist suffered an arm injury and decided to revisit the classic piano pieces he learned in his early years. The Piano Book deluxe edition from Deutsche Grammophon includes 29 of the most popular piano pieces for both piano players and lovers on 2 CDs. 

Veteran Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini continues to record and his latest album features Chopin piano classics, a repertoire he’s long been famous for. We also hear the famous song “In trutina” from a new recording of Carl Orff’s 1937 classic Carmina Burana, featuring the magnificent Tatar singer Aida Garifullina with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

We travel back in time to Kid Creole and the Coconuts’ 1985 big Paris concert with the track “No Fish Today” and also hear “Social Call” from jazz vocalist Betty Carter’s great 1992 Jazz at Lincoln Center show. I also throw in Brazilian drummer Tutty Moreno’s “Algo Sobre Nós” (Something About Us) recorded with his wife, singer-guitarist Joyce Moreno.   

Pianist Brittany Anjou is not only a fine musician but an Esperanto expert as well. Remember Esperanto? It was the universal language whose aim was to bring the world together, which unfortunately didn’t happen. You don’t have to understand it to appreciate Anjou’s music, however.

Azerbaijani pianist Amina Figarova’s new album Road to the Sun celebrates the 20th anniversary of her group. I think it is her best yet, not only as a pianist but also as a composer. We listen to the track “Fall Eclipse.”

Bassist Steve Haines is an artist I hadn’t heard before. I love his beautiful song “You,” from a new album that also features Joey Calderazzo on piano. I also love pianist Lucian Ban’s cover version of Jimmy Giuffre’s beautiful composition “Jesus Maria,” a song rarely covered since Giuffre’s original 1961 version.

Hope you enjoy this week’s playlist!

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 4/16/19    

  1. Aditya Prakash Ensemble / “Qawali” / Qawali / Aditya Prakash
  2. Joey DeFranceso / “The Creator Has a Master Plan” / In the Key of the Universe / Mack Avenue
  3. Mehmet Polat & Embracing Colours / “Playing the Time Away” / Quantum Leap / Aftab Records
  4. Rodopi Ensemble / “Synkathistós” / Thraki: Thrace – The Paths of Dionysus / ARC Music
  5. Lucian Ban & Alex Simu / “Jesus Maria/ Free Fall / Sunnyside
  6. Lang Lang / Mozart’s 12 Variations in C Major on “Ah, vous dirai-je Maman,” K. 265: Tema (“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) / Piano Book(Deluxe Edition) / Deutsche Grammophon
  7. Maurizio Pollini / Chopin’s “Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 No. 2”/ Chopin / Deutsche Grammophon
  8. Aida Garifullina, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, et al / “3. Cour d’amours: ‘In trutina’” / Orff: Carmina Burana (Live from the Forbidden City) / Deutsche Grammophon
  9. Eme Alfonso / “Veo” / Voy / Eme Alfonso
  10. Kid Creole and the Coconuts / “No Fish Today – Live” / Live in Paris 1985 / Rainman Records
  11. Brittany Anjou / “Hard Boiled Soup” / Enamgo Reciprokataj / Origin Records
  12. Don Cherry / “Chenrezig” / Brown Rice / A&M
  13. Said Lachhab, Abdesselam Damoussi and Nour Eddine  / “Allah hay” / Jedba: Spiritual Music from Morocco / ARC Music
  14. Amina Figarova / “Fall Eclipse” / Road to the Sun / Bartamina Music
  15. Tom Harrell / “Dublin” / Infinity / HighNote Records
  16. Betty Carter / “Social Call” / The Music Never Stops / Blue Engine Records
  17. Tutty Moreno / “Algo Sobre Nós” / Mágica / Far Out Recordings
  18. Steve Haines and the Third Floor Orchestra / “You” / Steve Haines and the Third Floor Orchestra / Justin Time Records
  19. Quiana Lynell / “Move Me No Mountain” / A Little Love / Concord Jazz
  20. Tri Nguyen / “Prayer for Water” / The Art of the Vietnamese Zither / ARC Music